Depths of winter

Depths of winter

Perhaps it’s to do with living up here in Glasgow, perhaps not, but I seem to have been thinking more about winter this year than ever before.  Winter in Scotland can be a long season; from our little cottage in the southern Highlands, snow was visible on the hilltops until the first week of May last year, and reappeared in November.

There is something about a clear winter sky, dark trees silhouetted, an orange winter sun which evokes a deeply buried creativity – even in me!


  • The excellent BBC Scotland series “Highlands – Scotland’s wild heart”  focussed disproportionately on this bleakest of seasons, describing the frantic preparations of the natural world in order to survive the “winter lock-down”.
  • In Richard Adam’s “Watership Down” (which I re-read after hearing that he had died at Christmas) he suggests that when humans say they like winter they really mean they like being proof against winter…”for animals and for a poor man, winter is the enemy”.
  • This tallied with much that I had read in an excellent book “Weatherland” by Alexandra Harris which examines our relationship with the seasons through the lens of art and literature.


  • Not until Pieter Breughel painted “The hunters in the snow” in 1565 had winter ever been considered a thing of beauty, a season which we might like to look at on our living room walls – until that time, winter had been a matter of survival.
  • For many in Syria and other countries around the world, and for many who are homeless, it still is.

Yet I do find a deep attraction in winter.  Not just its beauty when snow has fallen and the sun is shining from a clear blue sky but also an attraction to the idea of a season of dormancy, a season of withdrawal, a season of hibernation.  Spiritually I know it to be true that our lives may develop greatly in the winter seasons we all experience.

There is much to explore in these ideas and no space here to do so, but in conversation with a friend in the past few days who described her current experiences as “a winter” I was reminded of words I had read at the turn of the year, written by Linda Richardson to accompany her artwork alongside Thomas Hardy’s poem, “The darkling thrush” and appearing on Malcolm Guite’s poetry blog here.  I commend her thoughts to you, with their challenge to not crave only summer, sunshine and fun, but to be open to the depths of winter – and the depths which an emotional or spiritual winter can create in us.

It may be just as well that I feel like this… in the next few days I will be setting off to visit the Methodist Church in Russia and it’s currently about minus 15 in Moscow!  Jill


4 thoughts on “Depths of winter

  1. Please have some consideration for the elderly – dashing about and accomplishing so much! Agree Russia does sound cold but we haven’t really had a proper Scottish winter more a chilly autumn into a chilly spring!
    I am reading extensively also but mainly crime thrillers though I have managed a ‘study’ on Essential Christianity and the Essential Jesus.
    Well done on all your ‘achievements’ and keeping in touch. Every continued blessing on your ministries which we continue to hold in our prayers.
    we are no complete cabbages as we have taken a growing supportive ‘ministry’ in ‘The Friday Friends’ – run by two ladies in one of our churches. Friday Friends focuses on alcoholics, drug abusers and teenagers and has just got its own premises after eight years. I take a Sunday ‘service’ one Sunday afternoon per month and Olive makes soup as well as our financial and prayer support.
    Thanks for continued blogs.
    Blessings, Jim and Olive

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Will be thinking of you on your travels. Winter has been more severe here this year, we have had much lower temperatures than our family and friends in Scotland. We are fortunate to have the Methodist Art collection at out local Beaney Museum for the next three months. We visited yesterday and found so much to make us think, I need to look up some details online and visit again. It was good to the Dalit Maddona, we have used that in so many of our MWiB sessions in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

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